Monday, March 31, 2008

Josephine Goes to Pleasant Springs Farm

Josephine moved to my friend Peg's farm last week. Peg has two older skittish ewes and wanted a friendly sheep to follow her around. They both look pretty happy, don't they? I hated to see Josey go, but my fields are so bare and I know Josey will have a good home. We set Josephine up in her new digs in the barn then Peg and I went to look at her beautiful gardens down the hill. After a few minutes I thought that Josephine's bleeting was a bit too close and I looked up and there she was, out of the barn, running full throttle towards me. I picked her up and we put her in the field with the big girls.

She went from a happy face to a sad face. Those girls were mean! They didn't like any young whipper snapper invading their field and chased her, butted her and made her feel pretty darn miserable. Josey finally found a way out of that hell field (after I had left) and Peg sent me this e-mail later on: "I finally caught her yesterday afternoon and locked her up in the barn. I force fed a bottle warm milk and took her on Pam's leash to the green green grass behind the house. She was like B'rer Rabbit, "Oh PLEASE don't throw me in the briar patch." I plan to keep it up for a week in hopes that she will be my friend and NOT run away. Tough love." And on day two: "Josephine has quieted down already. I took her out on the leash and she is learning to follow me. She drinks from the bottle and sits on my lap quietly. Maybe she will be my friend."

This is the sheep's secondary 'house'. Peg built it herself.

And this is the chicken coop that Peg built. She had a few chickens but the fox got all but the rooster cuz he's too ornery.

This is ornery Poppycock, who can outsmart a fox. They did pull out all his tail feathers awhile back though. That's a bit too close for comfort!

This will be Josephine's new field when the grass turns green.

Peg has rehabbed this very old (1760) log cabin into Pleasant Springs Farm B&B. She was featured on Home & Garden TV years ago. The cabin was totally covered in vines and briars and really falley downey. She did a lot of the work herself, hiring a local carpenter for the really heavy stuff (like jacking up the cabin and laying a new foundation). Peg and Dave, the carpenter, had it out once though when she wanted to use pig hair for the chinking like in the old days. She had gotten the pig (dead), scraped the hair off it and wanted to mix it with clay. Dave would have nothing to do with it and they had a spat. Dave won and there is no pig hair in the chinking. But Peg does some old fashioned type crafts. She hand spins wool from her sheep, dyes it and stocks the shelves with her lanolin rich yarn. She also makes soap, grows a myriad of flowers for scent, color and eating, and builds most anything she has a fancy for. She is my idol and she's taught me everything about sheep, yarn, dying, spinning and knitting. She's also an author, with two new books coming out in May. One is about women wearing two hats during WWI, working the fields, raising children and doing whatever it took to keep the family going as the men were away at war. The other is an historical book about a local city, Germantown.
So, Josephine seems to have settled in and Peg is happy to have a lamb following her around.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

March Calmness

Spring is my favorite time of year. Most people around here like autumn the best but spring brings new life and warmer weather and more time outdoors. It does mean more outdoor work too but I see that as rewarding and (fun)! Toiling in the garden, spreading mulch, fixing fencing, new outdoor projects, all good stuff. Folks complain about mowing the lawn but that's my down time. I'm sitting down looking at the views as I go round and round the yard and I find it relaxing.

But I'm REALLY relaxed sitting in 104 degree water. This is what I see while reclining in our hot tub. We've had the spa for 7 years now and I'm in it at least twice a day. It's wonderful for these old bones, especially after mountain biking or working in the garden.
The maple buds are bursting forth and the sky is cerulean blue and the birds are all a-twitter. The birds don't know I'm here (either that or they see me as no threat) and I love watching them flutter from branches to the birdseed I cleverly put 5 feet from the hot tub. Recently I've had a large woodpecker stop by, shooing away all the smaller birds to get to the feed. Two mourning doves (they're always in pairs, I call them love doves) come around all the time and I enjoy their interactions with each other.

But all is not quiet and peaceful and chirpy when Big Galumpus shows up. Casey and Tasman love to visit when I'm taking a soak, coming to say hi and hoping for a pet.

They visit for a bit, then start wrestling on the deck and have to be shooed away so I can relax.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Get Your Easter On

Some folks dye Easter eggs, but at Dancing Leaf Farm we color our sheep. That's Picadilly in the blue, Josephine in yellow and taking backstage is Leopold wearing pink. They're checking out the spring colorway, 'Spring Has Sprung.'

Since spring keeps popping up for a day or two (then retreats to let winter give us another blast of frigid weather) I've wanted to dye some happy spring colors.

Plenty of roving to sit and spin some Easter egg colors. I've been spinning more lately, setting my spinning wheel up in the sunroom where I'm surrounded by 3 walls of windows offfering pretty field views.

A mess of color.

Here's the sheep growing the wool. I got them a new hay feeder that they love. Kip of Kiparoo Farm made it and it really saves the hay from being wasted. At $7 to $11 a bale, one can't afford to waste any. When the feeder was delivered they were curious and all came over to see what it was. Maybe it was a rubber-againster, or a play gym for the lambs to jump in and out of. But when I put the hay in, they finally got it and surrounded it and were very content munching away.

Sparkleberry turns to me and tells me "Thanks so much!" I tell her not to talk with her mouth full.

While I was taking pics of the new feeder, Bodacious, the single lamb from Dewberry, was totally intrigued with my bright orange crocs and wouldn't leave my feet alone.

I gave Josephine a kiss on her cute face. I do this a lot. One day awhile back I was visiting my friend who lived next door to a herd of goats belonging to her neighbor. One very friendly goat always came over to the fence to say hi and I walked over and gave her a big kiss on her white face. I always have bright pink lipstick on so I left a perfect lip smacker. I wonder what the farmer thought when he fed the goats that night.

I'm going to start taking photos of M&M Bakery in Cumberland. They always have a kitchy window display honoring the seasons or a holiday.

So enjoy your Easter sweets and have a great day and let's hope that spring comes to stay.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

3 Days of Fabulous Felting

For 3 days last week 10 of us felters got together at Sharon's fantastic studio in Potomac to learn new ways to felt. We hired Lisa Klakulak from Ashville to teach us her mad felting skills. She's a very accomplished artist in the medium of felt and is a great teacher. We learned to manipulate the wet fiber like clay with absolutely amazing results. Above are most of us with our finished projects. We learned to make a vessel from a ball form and making a 3-D object from a 2-D form, which turned out to be our bag.
We worked from 10-12, broke for lunch for an hour, and continued for 4 more hours in the afternoon. The meals were all planned out ahead of time, with all of us taking turns at the lunches and everyone contributing to a superb Friday night meal, including lots of wine. The food was all vegetarian and we all made delicious dishes. There was way too much food, even though I did my best to make a huge dent.
I knew a couple of these women before I started with this group, but these few days were a true bonding experience. I even got invited by Christine (she's Scottish) to join her at her sister's croft in Dundee, Scotland next spring to help with lambing out 600 ewes.

In Sharon's studio, taking a laugh time out. Sharon has an incredible studio. Being a clothes designer, her space is filled with color, awesome print fabric, runway samples, and every conceivable sewing machine, felting machine and gadget to create her fantastic designs. She is so generous with sharing her studio too. She set up 5 tables for us, put plastic down on the floor and even hired an electrician to install 3 new lights so we could see better. Thanks Sharon!

Some of the supplies needed for felting.

And some of the fiber (roving from sheep's wool) we used.

Lisa showing us how to barely 'tickle' the fiber until it forms a skin. Then we can really start rockin and rollin, turning the fiber into something substantial.

Cutting a slit into the bag exposing the inside where there is a 'resist,' which is a piece of canvas so the two sides do not felt together.

Lisa explaining how to make a gusset in the bag.

This is my flat piece of wet felt that turned into........

this little bag. I still have to embellish it with some beads and a button. It still amazes me that
I can use the wool from my sheep and make something that I can wear or carry around. Thanks Sparkleberry!

Three of the finished bags, well not totally finished but at least the shape they'll be. All of us are extreme embellishers so it'll be interesting to see how they all turn out.

Lisa laying out the fibers in very thin layers. It's hard to get it this thin. She makes many, many layers of very thin layers because they stick together better that way and felt down tighter.

We covered a ball in layers of the wool roving then rolled on another layer.

and it looked like a big old hairy ball with a bald spot....on a cup.

We then used pantyhose (a much better use for them that what they are intended) to wrap the ball so the fiber wouldn't shift. Jeanne was so focused. I think she's done this before.

Tucking it in

Some us needed two people to conquer the wrap.

Then the fiber wrapped ball with the pantyhose tightly encasing it is placed in a bowl of hot soapy water and rubbed gently at first, then harder, and finally handled roughly. All this agitation makes the fibers stick together to form something resembling fabric. It's actually very strong and durable when dry.

This is my fuzzy ball of fluff. . . . .

. . . . that turned magically into this! Ta da!

Everyone's vessels turned out so different from the others.

We'll take what we learned to another level. The possibilities are endless.